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Can you lay a new floor over tile?

Q. Some installers have told me that I can lay wood or laminate flooring over tile, and others said I can’t. Who is telling the truth? The tile (12 by 12) is not even. If the tile should be removed, is a jackhammer really necessary, and could using one damage the concrete slab underneath? Thanks.


A. They are both probably correct, but may not be talking apples to apples. Yes, you can lay engineered-wood or laminate flooring over tile if the tile is in decent shape. Loose, cracked tiles will cause your install to fail. Also, you will gain floor height, which can cause issues with doors and appliances. You will need to use prefinished engineered hardwood or laminate flooring if it is going over tile. The floor will be glued or floated, depending on the manufacturer. Some brands fit together with a tongue-and-groove design, and others click and lock. After a period of time, these floors become one monolithic floor, expanding and contracting together. Be sure to leave a ⅜ -inch gap around the perimeter for expansion. This gap can be covered with baseboard trim or a show molding if you are not removing the existing trim.

You cannot install solid ¾-inch hardwood flooring without removing the tile and installing or accessing a proper subfloor. Solid-wood ¾-inch floors are nailed to wood subfloors. As far as using a “jackhammer,” that depends on what you mean by jackhammer and what type of accessory chisel bit you’d use. I pick up a rotary hammer with a chisel bit to get under the tiles to remove them. At no time would I ever dig into the concrete slab below; there is no need. There are scraper blades you can use on these tools that will allow you to get up the thinset and grout as well.


Q. I have a hood over my stove with an exhaust fan that vents out the side of my house. The hole in the side of my house where it vents is covered with a metal flap that lifts up when the fan is turned on. This spring, I noticed that birds have managed to get under the flap and enter the exhaust pipe (sorry, I’m not familiar with the terminology). When I periodically turned on the fan, a few leaves and light twigs blew out. Despite this, I think the birds managed to build a nest. I’m seeing birds with worms in their beaks get under the vent flap, presumably feeding little birdies. Sometimes, I hear birds seemingly above my stove, which is about 10 feet from the side of the house. Needless to say, it’s really creeping me out!


Even though the birds may leave once the little ones are old enough to fly, I do not want them to return next year. Seems like I need someone who can remove the nest (once it’s no longer occupied) and any other “residue” from the birds, and then install some type of screen to keep out any other intruders. Based on my limited online research, it’s very important to make sure that any wildlife is out of your home before you screen off the entry points. Can you recommend a company that can tackle this problem? The vent has been in place for roughly 15 years, but this is the first year I’ve noticed an invasion.



A. A reputable handyman, appliance company, or even a carpenter can assist you with this. They will need to remove the exterior vent hood to clear the debris. There are kits you can buy for 4-inch dryer vents with brush attachments. I’d try that or even look for a larger brush, depending on the size of the vent duct. Stove ducts can be rectangular or round. I think using this type of tool to clean it out would work well.

There is no best way to prevent them from returning, other than physically shooing them away. In a previous column, I advised a reader to look at a commercially available “bird distraction” to deal with the crows on his roof (“Top-notch advice on chimney caps, crows,” March 22). I’ve also seen a product designed to protect flower beds from deer. It is a sprinkler triggered by motion.

Rob Robillard is a general contractor, carpenter, editor of AConcordCarpenter.com, and principal of a carpentry and renovation business. Send your questions to homerepair@globe.com or tweet them to @globeaddress or @robertrobillard.